Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Ones Who Got Away (or the might have beens)


Reminiscent fond thoughts of old loves coast through our minds as we reach the so-called declining years.

We drench these lost loves in a golden hue of iridescence, the dream of the possibility surely out-romancing the hard practicalities of the shared domesticity that would have ensued.

I was reminded of this as I did my round of blog updates this morning. One of my favourites is my friend Twilight's over at Learning Curve on the Ecliptic where she wrote about Princess Margaret (sister to the queen) and her doomed love affair with Peter Townsend, her father's equerry.

I've had a few of these in my time.

I remember Tony, tall handsome Tony, who came upon me one day as I played piano in my aunt's house. He was the first cousin of my first cousin on the other side. Home from English boarding school for the summer. Talking like a toff. We were both sixteen. I fell in love with the lock of blond hair falling down his forehead and the way he spoke as if marbles were in his mouth. I can still see the cravat (a paisley pattern) he affected at the throat of his cream coloured shirt and the jodhpurs he wore (though I never did see a horse underneath them).

He was intense, was Tony, talked of Greek and Latin and "Lit" and Oxford aspirations. He gripped my hand so tightly in his before he kissed it. Bemoaned the fact that his fellow townspeople, a hotbed of Irish republicanism, now mocked him for becoming a "West Briton". He was misunderstood, he was isolated. I thought of Byron when I listened to him, of Childe Harold. I thought of a wedding in June when we were eighteen and his family's wealth giving me my very own horse along with matching jodhpurs.

And then his family and my family put a stop to all of it. No more picking flowers in meadows and him reading now forgotten "Lit" to me.

Enough, they said. Quite enough. He's your cousin. Sort of.

I mourned him for a solid month when I was banished back to the city of Cork. A whole month is a lifetime when you're sixteen.

He wrote me care of a friend. Twice, I think. I wrote him back, I think. And polished his memory a little brighter whenever I thought of him, infrequently, over the years. He had an unfortunate marriage in London they told me and had never made anything of himself. He wound up as a London cabbie.

I didn't want to hear that, of course. I wanted to think of him as an Oxford Don, spouting "Lit" from a podium to his enraptured pupils. His blond locks still tumbling attractively on his forehead as he emphasized a point.

These long lost loves, never grow old or bald or have prostate problems or bad breath.

They lie burnished in satin lined boxes, glowing in the bloom of everlasting youth.

20 comments:

  1. I tend not to idealise old flames. Usually if you meet them again after a long interval it's a big disappointment. You've both changed a lot in the meantime and it's unlikely you'll click the way you did when you first met. I think those stories about couples meeting up and falling for each other all over again are very untypical.

    But your story of the promising posh boy ending up a cabbie is all too typical. Posh boys frequently end up "under-performing". Which doesn't say much for posh schools.

    ReplyDelete
  2. From time to time I Google old flames. Sometimes I find them and they have prospered, sometimes they have vanished without a trace. Life's a crap shoot.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I married my old boyfriend and divorced him 15 years later. We were ill matched, it turned out, it just took us a while to figure this out. I knew it when we were young. I was smarter then. That's why we kept breaking up. Well, I kept breaking up with him.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Marcia:
    And let's keep them that was for posterity. To bloody hell with the reality!
    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  5. Nick:
    It's a choice I'm making and I'm highly cognizant of the reality. The world of the imagination can be very comforting. I would never want to meet any of them in later life.
    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  6. 20CW:
    Yes, I wrote of that a few blogposts ago, tracking them down.
    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  7. Nora:
    Was he your second husband? I often wondered how you had met him.
    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  8. Call that a love story? Now, if you'd mourned him for six weeks at least!

    The other sad thing is that you found out what happened to him. That never works.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for the mention WWW - much appreciated. :-)

    Lovely description of your lost love, WWW. I can see him in my mind's eye.

    I didn't really get into my stride and meet males with whom I felt any rapport at all until well into my 20s, even then they weren't truly on my wavelength. Any BFs from my teens were there just because it seemed like a good idea at the time. So any true loves I've had (2) I've made sure to hang on to, and very fortunately, they to moi.
    ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I fell in love when I was 12 and that man remained the best loved. We grew up and I moved away and we married others and had families. We met again years later when we were both on our own again, but we never married. We did stay wonderful friends and lovers for years until his untimely death a couple of years ago. Sometimes love is like that.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Oh Friko!
    Have you forgotten that a week was a year when we were Sweet Sixteen.
    Now alas to me, a year goes by like a year.
    Well in my dreams I saved him from such drudgery, it was all a question of the right woman, you see.
    LOL.
    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  12. T:
    I seem to have always lost the true loves and kind of 'settled'.

    My last fierce love has been over around 10 years now and I've written about his political life.

    I am more than enriched by my past and have perhaps reached the age of reflection.

    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  13. Pauline:
    That sounds like the ideal to me - someone you loved as a child, then a re-ignition and then a non-domestication but a true romance.
    Lucky you!
    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  14. Yes, he was my second husband. We met again after many years apart and it was love all over again, or was it? I think we were fools running into each other's arms. What a very silly thing to do. Making a so called 'born again' romance come true.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I am happy to leave the romance of the past in the ditch with his lack of elastic! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Ha! That last comment is a great one!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Nora:
    As someone said to me once when I was denigrating a failed romance...
    don't steal from the happy moments of it. And I have taken that to heart. We tend to view the declining years as colouring the whole of it. Now I relish the good moments too.
    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  18. GM & Nora:
    Now why do you think of failed jockey underwear in that remark? :D
    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  19. The old fashioned kind of underwear that still had real elastic in it. Ha!

    ReplyDelete

Some of you are having trouble, I've removed captcha and verification so we'll see how that goes. My apologies. Blogger is putting up far too many roadblocks. Thanks for the emails alerting me.
wisewebwomanatgmail.com